The auction was conducted at 320 Palafox Street in Flomaton, an historic theater building that for years housed Flomaton Antique Auction and which was acquired by Stevens Auction Company in late 2011. The firm held its inaugural sale there Nov. 12. Flomaton is located near the Gulf Coast in Alabama, 64 miles northeast of Mobile and 42 miles north of Pensacola, Fla.
The secretary desk was the top achiever of the estimated 400 lots that changed hands on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. The piece still had the original finish and was substantial in size at 9 feet 11 inches tall, nearly 6 feet wide and 26 inches deep. The second top lot was a 6-piece parlor set by John H. Belter, in the Rosalie with Grapes pattern and crafted circa 1850. It made $15,680.
Headlining the event were four prominent old Southern estates, including the contents of a Baton Rouge estate with undeniable provenance and a Mississippi antebellum mansion called Cedar Grove. The quality of the merchandise was a magnet to bidders, who packed the gallery. Phone and absentee bidding were both brisk throughout the day. There was no Internet bidding.
“Everything moved quickly and we had a real good crowd,” said Dwight Stevens, owner of both Stevens at Flomaton and Stevens Auction Company. “We are gradually assembling a whole new audience along the Gulf Coast that’s very pleased the business is back, under new ownership, with a commitment to quality. And the area is booming, despite a weak economy.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 12 percent buyer’s premium.
Music boxes did extremely well. A palace-sized 48-inch Nicole Freres Pat. 1815 Swiss cylinder interchangeable music box with ten bells in a floral marquetry inlaid case hit $12,320; a 44-inch carved mahogany interchangeable cylinder music box by Paillard (N.Y., N.Y.) garnered $8,960; and a fine carved oak Criterion 15.75-inch disc double-comb music box rose to $4,800.
A rosewood rococo étagère in fabulous condition and attributed to John H. Belter, made circa 1850 with a white marble top and measuring 82 inches tall by 60 inches wide by 19 inches deep, went to a determined bidder for $7,840; and a rococo walnut étagère with carrara marble and a center drawer (circa 1850), boasting the good original finish and burl trim, made $2,016.
Beds and bedroom suites got paddles wagging. A queen-size rosewood half tester bed with pierce carving, signed McCracken & Brewster and made circa 1855, 9 feet 2 inches tall, changed hands for $10,080; and a walnut Victorian four-piece bedroom suite with high-back bed, matching dresser, wardrobe and wash stand, beautifully made around 1870, brought $4,480.
A period burl walnut French linen press with shelves and fitted drawers inside, all on a Bombay-style base, with claw feet, 93 inches tall by 72 inches wide by 24 inches deep (circa 1800), breezed to $5,600; and a period mahogany Empire secretary, still in the good original finish, with scroll front and individual glass panes, 90 inches tall (circa 1840), went for $2,464.
A rosewood rococo two-door wardrobe with fruit carvings on the doors and a bird’s-eye maple interior, attributed to J. & J.W. Meeks (circa 1850) sold for $5,600; and an American bachelor’s chest Empire wardrobe made form crotch mahogany, probably crafted in New York around 1840, 80 inches tall by 66 inches wide by 24 inches deep, knocked down for $2,688.
In decorative accessories, a large 39-inch-tall scenic Sevres urn, artist signed, hammered for $3,920; a pair of museum-quality Old Paris vases, magnificent both in detail and condition, probably made in the late 19th century, 19 inches tall, realized $1,904 each; and a pair of Old Paris vases with a courting scene painted on each side and trimmed in gold went for $1,440 each.
A rosewood server with marble top, made circa 1850 and attributed to P. Mallard, found a new owner for $2,352; a period mahogany Empire combination pier table (or game table), with large gold claw feet (circa 1830), commanded $2,016; and an oak Wooten double rotary roll-top desk with swing end, still bearing the Wooten Mfg. label and made circa 1880, brought $2,352.
A rosewood pierce carved parlor arm chair by George J. Henkel with blue upholstery, 39 inches tall and made circa 1850, coasted to $2,128; a circa 1840 primitive walnut American flat wall cupboard with pegged mortise and tenon construction achieved $2,016; and an American one-piece cherry corner cupboard with 16 individual pane glass door (circa 1830) rose to $1,904.
An old sterling silver flatware service for 12 in the Frances First pattern by Reed & Barton, with no monogram, climbed to $3,360; a bronze and marble Sonumbra lamp with 14-inch cut shade and 8-inch prisms (circa 1870), topped out at $1,568; and a Victorian looking back gentleman’s chair with swag tassel carving and black upholstery (circa 1860) fetched $672.
Rounding out the day’s top lots was a pair of fine art offerings. An original oil on canvas painting of a ship sailing at night with a lighthouse, signed Van Schloes and measuring 31 inches by 20 inches, gaveled for $1,080; while a Victorian framed grouping of four paintings of artists Rubens, Rembrandt and others, with each canvas just six inches tall, changed hands for $2,040.
Stevens at Flomaton’s next big auction is tentatively set for sometime around Memorial Day (time and date to be determined; watch the Stevens Auction Company website for details, at www.stevensauction.com)
Stevens Auction Company is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign a single item, an estate or a collection, you may call them directly, at (662) 369-2200; or, you can e-mail them at stevensauction@
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Ken Hall writes pre-sale and post-sale press releases for auction houses, for a fee. He writes, submits and tracks stories for clients. Submissions are published in trade magazines, posted on industry websites and appear in local newspapers.